The gig economy is here to stay.
Our team at Modern Tribe has thrived on this model for over 15 years, thanks to the flexibility it provides to our agency, our expanded team of loyal contractors, and the clients we serve. The tools and technology have shifted over the years, but momentum has grown so much that organizations like Nomad City are currently planning their fourth international conference to support location-flexible work.
I found my way into this culture as a solo contractor, and I’m now in a position where I hire and manage a quickly growing team of both full-time and freelance talent. At the last Nomad City conference, I got to share some of my journey with other entrepreneurs. If you want to learn more about why freelancers are a great way to facilitate—and even accelerate—the growth of your business, how to find solid freelance talent, and how to be a good customer (thereby earning your favorite freelancers’ loyalty), read on or watch my talk in the video below.
There’s a wealth of top-notch talent out there.
According to Harvard Business Review, approximately 150 million workers in North America and Western Europe have “left the relatively stable confines of organizational life—sometimes by choice, sometimes not — to work as independent contractors.” And regardless of their reason for going freelance in the first place, 51% of freelancers say there is no amount of money that would convince them to take a traditional job. In other words, these aren’t underemployed rookies or slackers who can’t get full-time employment. They’re highly skilled workers who have chosen the freelance life, often for the flexibility of being their own boss—and the lifestyle that flexibility makes possible.
So what does that mean for your business or organization?
Well, for one, it means an abundance of capable, specialized talent that can take the load off you and your team when you need it—regardless of the size of your business.
For small and growing businesses, it can help you grow quicker. I’ve often made the joke that as a business owner I get to work half days—any 12 hours I want (ba dum tss). In the early days of growing Modern Tribe, I did everything. I wore all the hats—sales, marketing, HR, basic admin. But there’s no need to do it all. When your time is the most precious thing you have, it behooves you to offload some work—ideally, the work you suck at—to people who don’t suck at it, and who in fact have built their career around doing exactly that kind of work.
And for bigger organizations, tapping into this massive, specialist workforce is just plain smart. The labor force is changing, and it’s in the best interest of companies of all sizes to adapt to and benefit from these changes. New contractors can typically be selected and onboarded much quicker than new hires. You save budget by not hiring staff for job functions that you may only need sporadically. There are certainly examples of businesses using a contractor model to avoid ethically employing staff. That kind of shady practice isn’t inherent to the contractor model though. The message from the freelance workforce is loud and clear: we’re doing it this way because we want to. You’re not saving money by underpaying them (don’t underpay them!), but rather by paying them fairly for their time, and nothing more. You get more flexibility, and so do they. Everyone wins.